–noun Nautical .
a stand or enclosure of wood or nonmagnetic metal for supporting and housing a compass.
1615–25; bin + ( bitt ) acle (late ME bitakille ) < Pg bitacola < L habitāculum lodge, equiv. to habitā– ( see inhabit) + –culum -cule
In a panic Cugel retreated behind the binnacle.
Source: Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance.